Saturday, March 28, 2009

Open that book...when you get a chance

Reading has always been something I truly find irresistible. It is a perfect rainy day (like today) to curl up with an intriguing book and hot chai. I am hooked on reading "this biography", "that manual", or "this novel". Even cookbooks. When I was younger, I read every single Sweet Valley Twins (do you remember Jessica & Elizabeth?), Babysitter's Club, Encyclopedia Brown, Mandie, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Anne of Green Gables series, Sherlock Homes and I'm sure many others not mentioned. Getting older, I migrated into Beverly Lewis, Francine Rivers, C.S. Lewis, Nicholas Sparks (grab a tissue), Karen Kingsbury, more fiction by L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, biographies, and missionary stories.

But it seems lately, the furthest I get in reading are my Bible, devotional, and magazines. I think I posted a while back about how I was reading "My Grandfather's Son", the autobiography of Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court judge. Nope. Never finished it. To be completely honest, I kept telling myself I'd finish, even until I incurred $6.00 in late fees to the library! Ack! Horrible, horrible, I know.

It's probably because I set the bar way too high. Currently, I'm itching to start on The Warrior by F. Rivers, The Longing by B. Lewis, When Joy Came to Say by Kingsbury, 1/2 Price Living by Ellie Kay, and I even peeked at a couple others. Secondly, gone are the minutes and hours I can waste away on Prince Edward Island or in Amish country, in my imagination anyway. Now it's a snippet during bathroom break, while I'm waiting for a load to wash/dry, or oven to heat up.

My hubby doesn't mind this addiction one bit! It doesn't cost anything AND certain books often lead to organization, cleaning of the house or cooking a new recipe. Oh yeah, of course he likes it.

One bit of advice. Do not read Nicholas Sparks during PMS. I think I tend to gravitate toward those kind of books and movies when I am feeling the hormonal rollercoaster. You should have seen me reading Dear John, A Walk to Remember, or The Notebook. Mike would come home to a trail of Kleenex leading to his sniffling, depressed wife. Yes, N. Sparks novels can do that to you.

I enjoy novels (fiction) written by authors that give meaningful storylines about real-to-life problems and situations. But one of the reasons I am drawn to biographies and non-fiction is that they are true. I learn a lot from other peoples' lives, especially those of missionaries and women/men of faith. I can re-tell the story with the confidence of knowing it actually happened, and be inspired to learn lessons from their failures or successes.

I will never "grow up" in the sense that I am often swayed by characters. We tend to choose a person(s) in the book that we like and don't like. If the gal is an amazing cook, I'll likely cook a great meal that night, too. Or if they are the fashionista, often I'll get into the fashion gear myself! Ha - how easily influenced I am by my reads.

Another favorite of mine is reading old journals. Have you ever done this? It is an amusing, and can be, an embarassing time. In huge letters I've written at one time, "I hate my brother!!!!" I read another entry about "a boy I like" and think "I'm glad he didn't turn out to be my Prince Charming." I especially get a chuckle at "so and so is my best friend today" then "I hate said so and so!" the next day. Or the best - "when I grow up I want to have red hair and green eyes". Ha! Too funny for a girl with brown hair and eyes. Just checked again...still brown :D

Reading is quite the adventure, even if you can only get a peek at a couple paragraphs. If you get a chance, take out that book you've been meaning to get to...and peruse. I did so today - at the dentist's office, for about 2 minutes!

You won't be sorry. And you just might have a jolly time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How yesterday went

It was not hard to remember Amelia yesterday. It's very easy to go to that place again...though not nearly as painful. But still the rememberance is laced with a bit of sadness mixed in the joy. I looked at her photos again, which I am soon placing in a beautiful pure white scrapbook. I recalled Amelia's telltale long legs and skinny arms, so incredibly like her Daddy's. I still miss holding her sweet little body. I bought her a dozen of fresh peach roses that now sit in the living room, faces beginning to open up.

I love my daughter so much. I cannot wait to see her on Glory's shore.

I never forget Amelia. Yet, she is not constantly in my thoughts either. I guess that's healthy, though. It would be an unhealthy thing to be obsessed with her each hour of every day. I am so thankful for her photos because it cements her memory. As much as I try to keep her memory alive, though, in all reality, she is not with us and that is just plain hard to swallow.

I can't tell you how much I looked forward to having my two beautiful little girls sitting side by side on the carpet, playing with their toys. Floppy ponytails and braids. I look around at newborns and think, "That would have been my Amelia". And an ache that never quite leaves my heart reminds me again of who I have lost. Then, I try to gather my wits again and look to God for the future.

As years add to my plate and I "grow up", I realize that life is full of difficulties not to be avoided. They are just there. I can either see them as a road block, or an opportunity to have the Lord work in my life for His good. It's God's grace at work, but it's also a choice I have to make. I know that others have endured greater hardship than I have or will ever have, but yet, God gives us each our lot in life.

To any of you who have ever encountered a heart-wrenching time in your life (and I'd be surprised if you have not!), you know that before the trouble came, you'd probably say to yourself, "I could never handle that load" or "that would just be too much to bear". But here you are, and here is the load you never wanted. Though you don't see yourself as a strong person, you are stronger than you think. Because God is the One who can sustain you. He never expects you to do it on your own, to fake your way through.

All I can say from my experience is to not think about the future, nor the past. Don't think about the 'what if's' and 'could have been's'. Just believe the promises of God for right now, believe on Him for the present. Bask in His love and protection and decide that you will go through this tough time in His strength...wherever that may lead. It is very dangerous to make decisions based on guilt or fear. You will regret it! Simply decide to entrust God with the next step. He will give you wisdom on what You are to do, along with the encouragement of others along the way. But do not listen to the voices of doubt and shame. Those are not of God. He's given us a spirit of love, power and a sound mind!

But I am human and I have given in to fear at times. Fear is not my biggest weakness, but believe me, I have others. Someday I want to share a story about a restless sleep and how my greatest fear came over me, at least my greatest fear at this time in my life. It was not worth it to worry. But I chose to do so, lose a bunch of sleep verus trusting God. And even though my fear came true, God saw fit to bring me through it on the up-side anyway. He's such a faithful God. Always bringing us back to Himself.

All this to say, I am not fearing the future since we have lost Amelia. We still want to have more children, Lord willingly and on His time table! It's funny how you take childbirth for granted when you get married, at least I did. I am your average healthy woman and have no reason not to have babies one right after the other. Except for God's timing. Minor detail! But His delay has given me a compassion for women who struggle with infertility, or who have lost babies whether in miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn and infant death. And I would probably not have that brand of compassion had I not lost our precious Amelia.

Sometimes we go through the hill of difficulty not for ourselves, but for another. Which reminds me, can you please continue to pray for Stellan and Sierra?

I don't know if you remember, but I asked you to pray for baby Harper. God has most certainly healed her and she is doing splendid! Please check out her blog, she is precious! Also, this sweet woman posted on my blog once a bit ago and somehow I just read her post today! I am so glad someone has taken up a cause for continually praying for the little ones who need it badly! We can't know and pray for every child, but we can pray for a good bunch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

6 months

It is 6 months ago today that we lost our second-born daughter, Amelia. It doesn't seem that long ago - half a year - only seems like weeks.

Instead of being sad, I am going to try to remember her and rejoice. Rejoice for the fact that she is in heaven.

It will be buying some fresh flowers and placing them in the house in remembrance of her. Fresh flowers always remind me of Amelia. They bring tears to my eyes. After her memorial service, all those beautiful bouquets of color are what lifted my spirits every day. A reminder of life and beauty and what waits beyond the grave.

My heart has had to be shaped these last 6 months. It has had to say, "God, Your will be done." I have had to be okay with God's plans and accept the realities of life. It's hard to surrender to God like that. Especially when it concerns someone so innocent and dear to us. Sometimes God allows a loved one to live life on earth.

But you know what?

God is gracious even when they die. It is difficult to grasp, but the fact that you and I are alive are proof that God's mercies abound. None of us deserve a full, rich life. The number of days I have are a gift straight from heaven.

Death reminds me of the seriousness of sin.

Because of sin, there will always be death, because sin will always bring death whether it is physical or spiritual. It is a byproduct of our fallen nature. We each have chosen to sin and at some point of our lives we are faced with a choice to admit our propensity to do so, or reject the reality of guilt and shame in our hearts. To reject the reality is to not see the value of Christ's death on the cross.

When we do see and turn from our sin, we look to Christ, which is in the opposite direction of where we were headed. We are now on the path to Life.

"For since by man came death, by man (the Lord Jesus Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Just as rebellion started with one man, Adam, we all have rebelled, through the Lord Jesus we can be freed from the shackles of deadness, both physically and spiritually. When this life is over, all those who have received Jesus as Savior from their sin, or those too teeny to do so, will reign forever with Him in heaven.

It's not a mystery, not a fantasy, not a nice saying, not an empty wish. It is a reality and hope given in the Bible. Remember, hope in itself is not valuable, but what we hope for is:

"Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed...


Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Monday, March 23, 2009



This miracle boy is a walking testimony to a poweful God! God completely healed him of SVT in the womb. Then, while still an infant, God allowed him to overcome RSV. He has been simply perfect. Just this weekend, he went into SVT mode (abnormally hight heart rate problems). So please pray!!

Especially pray for mommy and daddy.

Thank you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scrumptious Recipe

You can make your delicious replica of this... not that many minutes.


  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup quick oats
Mix together and lets oats soak up water. Meanwhile, cream together:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cup flour (I use whole wheat and it still comes out super moist)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add above creamed mixture to oats/water. Mix well. Place in a lightly greased 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I doubled the nuts, 1 cup, this time and it was fantastic)

Mix and spread evenly over hot cake. Place under broiler for 2 minutes or until bubbly.

Presto. A cake your mouth can't get enough of!

Friday, March 20, 2009

More Pics

These are my Spring toes. Very important photo.

I never get manicures because they are ruined within one day. But on vacation, I love to get a spa pedicure. It just feels so relaxing and soothing when they do their whole massage thing. Also, since toes don't scrub dishes, paint or cook, pedicures last forever (in fact, maybe too long). I also got my eyebrows and upper lip waxed (when God gave me hair, He kept on giving!), but I'll spare you the close-ups on those. I feel so neat and clean when it's done though. So ladylike.

Here is the cabinet/wall unit I painted white. The handles on the doors were drilled a little off by the former owner, so I have to fix those. All in all, I love how it brightens the room. I've yet to add some moulding.

These are Brilla's letters I painted and Mike helped me put up. Those things are a pain to nail just right! Just remember that before you decide to do letters in your room.

And some fun pics of Brilla. She is a ham. So NOT a poser. That girl can't sit still for my photos; I think it cramps her style.

She almost always has her mouth open. Always talking. I wonder where she got that?? Brilla is a very happy girl, though. Nothing gets her down for more than a minute!

Wearing Mama's nightgown. Lovely, ain't?

Her favorite empty box. She loves getting into them as I'm organizing.

And here she is dancing on the fireplace area.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The Winchester House.

This mansion, built at the bequest of Sarah Winchester (Winchester Rifles), has 160 plus rooms.

Her story really is a sad one. She lost her only daughter at 6 weeks old. Her husband died not long after, leaving her a widow. A wealthy widow. I believe she inherited a million dollars from her husband and mother-in-law and received an income of $1000 per day. That's a lot now, just think of how much that was in the late 1800s. She was in mourning for the rest of her life. She believed that the spirits of those who had been killed by the Winchester repeater rifle had haunted and killed her loved ones.

On the advice of a psychic, she tried to appease those spirits by building the rooms of the mansion for the rest of her life, no expenses spared, until her death. Construction did not rest, but happened 24/7. In our tour, we came to the room where she would have her seance every evening, for she consulted "the spirits" on how to build the Winchester mansion. Yes, creepy.

But also very sad. Instead of turning to her Creator for comfort in her grief, she chose to consult the evil one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy our lives. She lived her years in torment, fear and guilt.

There was so much beautiful and original architecture, I had to take quite a few shots and share them with you.

Just goes to show that a fancy house, pretty things, and lots of money do not bring lasting happiness in one's life, nor do they bring peace.

The Hills of San Jose

Doesn't that sound like a book title or something?

Well, here are some pictures that don't do them a bit of justice. They were much greener and much more beautiful!

A Little Aimless

God is not a God who wants to grind us down to powder. He doesn't desire to see us suffer. "Ha, take that!" I believe He wants us, however, in whatever circumstances, to look in His direction and be conformed to the character of Christ, and produce love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, etc. And to thank Him, because whatever we're going through is our destined twist or turn in life. He never gives us more than we are able to bear. Through it all, we are to grasp the lessons He wants us to learn. Sometimes we just don't get it the first time.

Journal entry today...

I have been able to pin-point my exact feelings right now. I feel a little aimless, not purposeful. I feel like I am in a transition state. But I cannot live my Christian life this way. I need to dedicate my days to God and ask how I can best serve and glorify Him. There will never be "the perfect moment" in my life for ministry, for serving Him. I cannot wait for my life to be fulfilled, I must be fulfilled in Christ right now.

Please fill me, Lord Jesus. Help me use my gifts to the best of my ability. And help me to be the wife You have asked me to be for Michael. Help me meet his needs. Help me to be a Mama who raises Brilla in Your truth and wisdom. Give me Your grace God, to get out of my comfort zone and into Your plans for my life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm Back

My honey and I returned from Sunny California last night. I feel so refreshed and ready to be home for all the daily tasks again. Sometimes you just need a breather, a time to regroup and refocus. Our time together was special and we had many conversations (and laughs) about our dreams, goals and prayers.

We visited Vallejo, San Francisco, Mill Valley/Sausalito, San Jose and Oakland. We honeymooned in San Fran, so it was rather nostalgic. The hills of San Jose were gorgeous. We drove among them for a few hours. So green and lush and beautiful. We even walked some trails and saw deer, turkeys (escaped from a nearby farm), hawks galore, and a few other rare birds. I guess there are mountain lions in the area, too, but we are glad we didn't see any of those.

We had planned on being a lot more active, but ended up doing more low-key things like sight-seeing via the car and walking around in nature a bit, watching an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon, shopping, touring the Winchester Mansion, and eating reeeaaally good food. We also plain relaxed...slept in and watched TV!

I will most definitely post pictures tomorrow, seeing that hubby has the camera today.

In the mean time, a few verses for this mild, no-rain Wednesday:

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thess. 5:18

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD, how long? And have compassion on Thy servants. O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days where You have afflicted us, and the years where we have seen evil.

Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.

And let the beauty of the LORD our GOD be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.

Psalm 90:12-17

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Saving Money

The crunch is finally lifting.

We are done with taxes and take them in to get checked tomorrow afternoon. So, hopefully that's the end of them and we don't have much more tweaking. And -

I got the car back today! Hey, we're out $800, but vehicles just don't take care of themselves, do they? Honestly, our Camry has been good to us, as both our Toyotas have been. Brilla and I had a wonderful time with friends today. The Mama was SO sweet to take me around in her van to do some shopping since I didn't have the car yet. Thank you, Susi!

And I was encouraged by Susi's post to save some money. I have some ways I myself try to save money (not necessarily tied to the environment). Here goes:

  • Take showers at the gym. I don't feel guilty taking a shower every day this way!
  • Use a waterbottle that I fill at home before I go to the gym. I have saved a ton by not buying bottled water.
  • I can make 4 meals out of a whole chicken! First meal is roast chicken, second is chicken tacos or sandwiches, third is chicken fried rice, and third is a nice pot o' chicken soup! Yum.
  • I no longer buy books or rent movies. I check them out from the library. At least until the last season of 24 comes out :)
  • I buy a huge "value" bottle of handsoap and just refill my dispensers when needed. And I buy Softsoap's Soothing Aloe Vera.
  • Buy at Costco. Magazines are 30% off the cover price.Olive oil is about $25 for 2 bottles. Vanilla, $5.99 for a big bottle. Their frozen/ice glazed chicken breasts are a good deal. They cook easily. Mozzarella string cheese in bulk is cheaper (we go through it fast). Organic Free Range chicken broth - so much cheaper than the store. We go through soups like nothing. Orowheat bread is great deal (2 loaves). There are a wide range of items. We usually rotate buying things so we're not stuck with a TON of groceries, actually wasting them in the long run.
  • Majority of groceries are bought at Winco. Gotta love that place! Items that are especially bargains for me there are the Dole frozen juice (.98/can), lean ground beef ($3/lb), cheese blocks, deli meat, produce (very fresh), and all things canned.
  • I usually buy my coffee at Tully's or other tried-and-true coffee places that don't cost the Big Bucks. But yes, I still drink Big Bucks from time to time. Because face it, they are like everywhere!
  • And these days, I'm even cutting back on going out for coffee, opting instead for home brew or tea. At least when by myself. Going out with girl friends is a whole nuther ballpark!
  • DO NOT buy things on clearance just because they're on clearance.
  • Use less detergent in the dish washer and washing machine. I believe you only need about a quarter size of dish detergent and sometimes same for the washer.
  • My basic housecleaner is Simple Green! Use for everything.
  • The only non-water drink I buy is frozen juice. Saves money AND calories.
  • I buy Brilla the Suave 3-in-1 soap. It's a body soap, shampoo, and conditioner. And under $2.
  • I use conditioner (versus shaving cream) for shaving.
  • Rinse off my aluminum foil and reuse.
  • Make majority of meals at home and spice things up by finding new recipes.
  • AAA all the way. So many places gives discounts if you're a member.

That is all I can think of. I glean so much from other ladies.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bad Week

Have you ever had a downright awful horrible BAD week?

Well, I'm going through one right now. Probably not as bad as some, but...

Our taxes are due pretty soon. Like next week soon. Good thing we discovered that before the due date! Bad news is, we are on vacation before the deadline. So we're down to the wire on them. And last night was proof that finances, taxes, etc. can cause stress and headaches within a half-hour. We are hurrying up as fast as our fingers can carry us, armed with calculators and Turbo Tax. But my little brain can't help but envision maybe an accountant next year? Just a little CPA help or something?

And then a freak car malfunction. On Icey Monday, I was heading out to the gym. To get the snow/ice off my window, I tried to roll it down. Then I quickly rolled it up 'cause I realized I just needed to de-fog. Something stuck, so I tried to roll it up again, and the window did go up, but at a weird, not-so-normal angle! Then nothing. So I went to Greg's Japanese Auto. Initially it was only going to cost $314 for everything. I got a call today saying the main "roll-up, roll-down" button will cost $400. All in all, it will cost us about $700 for this "minor" fix! And we have limited insurance, so no, it doesn't cover. B-U-M-M-E-R.

These two things have affected other things that have affected other things. I won't go into it all. But it has just been plain hard. And finances aren't at a super high, either.

It is incredibly tempting to resort back to my toddlerhood state by whining and throwing a "grown-up" temper tantrum. But it's a good time to remember to ask God for help and cast my cares at His feet. And not be anxious, because I can't add an hour to my life or inch to my stature by doing so.

And I'm trying to count my blessings. I'm glad we didn't find out about our taxes due when it was too late. I'm glad the car thing didn't happen while I was way out of town, or the day before vacation. I'm glad that we can actually afford to pay the repairs. I'm grateful that we have an alternate car. It's totally manual, including no power steering, has some mold that I discovered on the floor (ick), AND a huge crack in the windshield, but hey, the engine runs great and we get to where we need to go.

If you think of us, shoot up a flare prayer on our behalf! Thanks. You can also let me know about your bad week, and I'll lift you up, too!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big Loser

I wanted to give an update on "pound loss". I have lost 13 lbs. Hope this is encouraging to you women...I have never entered the 120's (even when I was in super-duper shape at age 15, playing soccer 4x a week). But 135 is healthy for my height, age and activity level. I'm sure I could lose more if I worked at toning my abs and such, but I'm really not in the "power body" mindset these days.

I am currently back to wearing size 6! Isn't that wonderful? I went through my clothes in the garage the other's like going shopping without spending money. Of course, my reward when all is done is to pick out some new stuff. I have not bought any new clothing for myself, except last month for my transition size. And those were 2 pairs of pants from the thrift store amounting to $15. Before I do that, I want to consult some sort of "professional" advice about the basics that should be in my closet. Anyway, whole nuther story.

So. I've been working out Except Sundays. No excuses. That has been hard, but I just pretend I'm one of the contestants on Biggest Loser. Hehe. Sometimes it works, and sometimes reality rules over imagination and I just have to GO. I usually run on the treadmill (about 4.5 to 5 miles) or elliptical machine for about 7 miles. As much as I can do in an hour. I tried the Step Sculpt class and I have to admit - I am NOT coordinated. Since I'm trying so hard to figure out the footwork, I'm unable to get my heart rate up and therefore, the class is a flump for me. I'm gonna try the spinning class again. It is kick butt hard!! But it feels great afterward. You lose about 700/800 calories per class.

And my eating. Yes, I've had to control it. Please understand, I LOVE food. I've just had to learn how to make the most out of my calories. I take in about 1632 calories a day. I've read you shouldn't go below 1400, but that number could be a tad high. Just never go below 1000! Your body cannot thrive healthily under that amount per day.

My challenge for the week? To cut out the mochas. I've discovered that tall decaf nonfat caramel macchiatos (doesn't come with whip) are only 140 calories. I am a coffee wimp, so my espresso must be sweet. But I'm just experimenting what cutting even those out will do for my body.

Wish me luck!


I tried to find a link for this recipe, but alas, there is none. Or at least I couldn't find one. But this is from Rachael Ray's Just in Time! cookbook. This was our dinner tonight and let me tell you, I almost forgot I'm trying to lose weight! Ha.

This meal is a "30-minute meal". Yeah right. It takes her 30 minutes. It took me 1 hour. Maybe next time it'll be quicker since I now know the rhythm of this recipe. I like to make sure I'm getting all the right ingredients, at the right time, in the right measurements the first go 'round.


Turkey Chili Meatballs, Fire-Roasted BBQ Sauce, Sour Cream Smashed Potatoes, and Broccolini

2 lbs new potatoes or baby Yukon Gold
3 TB butter
Salt and black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream (eyeball it)
3-4 TB snipped or chopped fresh chives
1 1/4 lb ground turkey breast (average weight of pkg)
1 onion, peeled
4 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 TB chili powder
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese (I used what I had, Cheddar)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
2 TB EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), 2 times around the pan and some for drizzling
1/4 c. molasses
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 brown sugar
1 (28 oz) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (I had diced, smooshed them with a tater masher)
1 lb broccolini, stem ends trimmed

Preheave the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut larger potatoes in half, leave smaller baby potatoes whole and place them in a sauce pot. Add water to cover by about 1 inch, cover with lid, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove the lid and simmer the potatoes until tender, 12 -15 min. Drain and return the potatoes to their pot, then add 2 TB butter, some salt and pepper, and the sour cream and chives. Smash potatoes together.

While the potatoes are coming to a boil, place the turkey in a mixing bowl. Grate half of the onion into the meat along with half of he garlic, the chili powder, shredded cheese, cilantro or parsley., and salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1 1/2 in-round meatballs and arrange on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle meatballs with a little EVOO and roast in the oven for 12 min or until desired doneness.

Once meatballs are in the oven, start the bbq sauce. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the 2 TB of EVOO. Chop the remaining half onion, and add it to center of skillet along with remaining garlic and salt and pepper.. Cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 min. Add the molasses, cider vinegar, and brown sugar; stir to combine; then stir in the fire-roasted tomatoes. Bring to a bubble and simmer the sauce until desired consistency. You may want to boil out some liquid to give a little more bbq sauce consistency.

Place about 1 in of water in a high-sided skillet over high heat, put a lid on it, and bring to a simmer. Add some salt and the broccolini and cook for 3 to 4 min, keeping the broccolini on the crunchy side. Drain the return to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining TB of butter; stir until the butter has melted and coasted all the broccolini.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to skillet with the bbq sauce. Toss to coat with the sauce. Plate up the meatballs with a little more sauce on top and serve with smashed potatoes and the broccolini alongside.

PERSONAL NOTES: I didn't do the broccolini! I just did some whole green beans my way. Also, the goal for the bbq sauce is for it to be sweet versus bitter/strong, so you may need to add more brown sugar.

Otherwise, this concocts a square meal that will knock your socks off!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Cost of Obedience

This is recorded more for my sake than for delightful blog reading, but here are my notes this morning at our Bible study lecture. Btw, we are studying the Life of Moses currently Numbers Ch. 13-14:

Do I find it difficult to trust God? Who am I more like, Caleb and Joshua or the other 10 spies?
We need to be women that not only have faith in our hearts, mind, and mouth, but also in our actions.

Big Truth #1 - A good leader always gives good, clear, concise, and measurable instructions. God has given us instructions and promises all throughout Scripture. Take Him at His Word! If God says it, then it is TRUE!

Big Truth #2 - Fear sees the obstacles; faith sees the opportunities. Who/what are the giants in my life? What is keeping me from growing, from moving on? Maybe the world is too tempting; perhaps fear has us stopped in our tracks.

God, please build my faith!

Big Truth #3 - Fear is like a contagious disease. Are we remorseful or repentant? Remorse is feeling bad we got caught or our flaw was pointed out, but repentance is getting on our knees and changing our ways.

Moses is re-tested. God says, "I'm sick of these complaining and ungrateful people! Stand back, Moses, I'm going to annihilate these people and make you a greater nation!" But Moses, the meek man, passes the test. He is more concerned about the reputation of God being tarnished and the glory of God being diminished, than personal gain. He reminds God of His plan for His people, His forgiveness, and mercy. But He also reminds God of His justice.

Are we able to pass whatever test God puts us through? Again, and again?

God forgives the Israelites, but not without consequences.

Big Truth # 4 - When we don't believe God's promises, we receive His punishment.
How do we continue to stand on His promises and build on them? Tips: Know the Word of God, Read the Word of God, Meditate on the Word, Pray God's Word, Obey God's Word and Share God's Word. What is the point of keeping His promises secret, His Good News quiet? We need to make it public.

Big Truth #5 - There are very serious consequences for people who lead other people away from God.

All the spies who spread the negative rumors of "It can't be done!" were killed almost instantly. They are the ones who conjured up a lack of faith within the people. They used their influence for evil rather than good. And they had the promise of God Himself with them, to fight their battles and conquer the Promised Land!

Big Truth #6 - The cost of obedience is nothing compared to the cost of disobedience.

Instead of going ahead with the battle plan and dwelling in a land full of milk and honey and the presence of God, they had to wander in the desert 40 years. All those 20 years and above would
die in the wilderness, all except for Caleb and Joshua, and the children. But even their children had to bear a hard burden in the desert because of their parents and elders' disobedience.

What's changed in my life in the last 6 weeks? What is keeping me from moving ahead on God's agenda for my life? Seek Him about it.


I cannot tell you just how personally convicted I am by this message. There are so many areas in which I am feeble. Just downright weak. In my pride, I think I'm doing good, but compared to where I should be, I have fallen short. "Where God wants us" looks different for everybody, but His Word does not shift. But the key is repentance in our disobedience, then walking the road. Perhaps you have already gotten through the repentance area and are struggling and need exhortation on your journey. You can do it! What God has brought you to, He will bring you through. God does not change, it is us that need to change.

There is much more I'd love to expound on, but I know you have kitchens to clean and dinner to make.

Happy Wednesday~

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Compulsive Decorating

Lately, I've been decorating here, there and everywhere. I've just completed painting one wall of our livingroom. It used to be a badly stained dark wood, and now it is a fresh white! Today, I added new handles for the little doors - the wall consists of a sort of shelving/doors unit. Now all that needs to happen is moulding at the bottom and top. But let me tell you, it looks 100% better already! The white matches with a little mosaic table I found at TJ Maxx for $7. I also added further decoration with a bunch of (I think 10) rustic cherrywood frames for only $10 (also TJ). I think some of the best inexpensive decor are same-colored frames in different shapes and sizes.

I want to rid our other living room wall of it's 70s wood (you cheap, thin wood sheets). Some have said it's cool-looking. Though it's not terriblehorrible, I simply don't like it. It also darkens the small area. I want to bring the sunshine in! I'm also thinking of accenting the fireplace with a new mantle and mantle pillars (?).

See, I am addicted.

And I'd like to sand down and paint my daughter's desk, the one that I used when her age. I bought new silver hinges for it. I'm thinking I want the color to be light blue, with cute flourishes on the top and chair. We shall see. Her room is French countryish, with a kid flair, so it can't be anything too flashy.

I'm SO not a sewing girl, so I'm going to ask someone to make cushions for my piano bench and kitchen chairs. Perhaps it will only take buying foam cushions to cut out and a staple gun. If that's so, then the challenge is on. I also want to tile the wall behind my stove area, just to spice it up. Nothing fancy, just something cute and basic. I think tiles are on sale now.

Once I can finally get hold of the camera in my husband's truck, I will post some photos of my finished projects. I should post befores and afters but I never remember to do before's.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Heart SO Full!

Have you ever been so full of blessing that your heart might simply burst with its thankfulness?? "God, I can't handle any more!" Well, that is how I feel right now. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened, but I just feel totally blessed. And I don't deserve it. God is so good to us every hour, of every day, of every week.

This is my thankfulness post, and I just want to list some things I feel are God's gifts to me and my family.

  1. My husband has work! In this economy, we should be without work and our business dissolved. But God has seen fit to let the opposite happen. We never know what is around the corner, but I never fail to trust Him for the unknown. I think He's done a pretty good job so far, all on His own.
  2. I have the most wonderful neighbors. They have been so good to us! Our neighbors to the right gave Brilla very generous Christmas gift (and we didn't even plan on giving them anything with our tight budget!), as well as beautiful flowers at Amelia's memorial. And they are not even believers! What an example to me to let God's love flow through me. I have no excuse. Our neighbors to the left, I have recently discovered, are believers! Wow, 4 years living by each other and we didn't even know! Maybe we need to be a little more observant! They gave us a meal during our hard time. Lorina and I also have husbands both in the construction arena, so we've been praying for each other in that. And added bonus just lately, all three of us neighbors (mommies and kiddos) have been getting together for playdates. Our neighbors right across from us (we live in a cul-de-sac) have given us toys and such their daughter has grown out of (she's 13!). Also, Michaela has babysat Brilla on numerous occasions. See, I told you what great neighbors we have. This is an answer to prayer, as Michael and I asked the Lord to give us wonderful neighbors and opportunities to reach out ourselves.
  3. Awesome friends! I have so many dear, close friends. I don't think God likes to leave us alone on our journey through life. We need encouragement, accountability and fellowship! They may not know it, but when my friends have invited me over or out, it's always been right when I've needed it. It's easy when we're going through a hard time to close up and keep away. Though there's definitely time for that, there's time when we then need to feel the embrace of a friend, whether metaphorically or physically. Praise God! Always helps to have a bit of coffee to top it off! :D Also, our kids can grow and play together, and that is such a fun thing as well.
  4. Bible Study Fellowship. BSF is a huge international ministry, with masses of women who just want to study God's Word, unadulterated. Our group in Federal Way has been such a blessing. Do you notice I keep using that word a lot? Well, I mean it! And it happens to be only about 8 minutes from my home? How cool is that? The Bible study format has us meet together for songs, split up into small groups, then come together again for lecture. I know all the women in our small group were meant to be there, because so many of them have spoken to my heart with their honest answers and insights into Scripture. My leader, Amalea, brought me a meal right after we lost Amelia and was there for me on the phone to cry with me and simply say, "I'm so sorry". In fact, about 4 of the women came up to me to say, "I'm sorry for what you've experienced. I'm praying for you." Some gave a hug, some just gave tears. No drastic wise words, no expectations. Just love. And what's crazy is that some of them have said I've helped them. I don't know how in the world that could be, but thank the Lord that even through a broken vessel, His light still shines.
  5. My family. I don't know what I would do without my parents and in-laws. They have taken care of Brilla numerous times and provided us with many things! I don't think you realize (or at least I didn't) how much you need and appreciate family until you have one of your own. My Mom even takes off her Wednesday afternoons to watch Brilla when I have a fellowship after Bible study (kids aren't allowed). She kind of spends the whole day with us and we love that! Also, I believe I have the best in-laws ever (you can beg to differ!), but they have met so many needs as well as have just been there.
  6. Prayer. I have felt every prayer that has been prayed on my behalf! Seriously. Especially during the very painful moments right after we lost our daughter. The same Holy Spirit that comforts us and doesn't leave us as orphans, is the same Holy Spirit that is inside each of my dear Christian friends. I myself can go to God at any time, anywhere. I can't imagine life without being able to cry out to Him. He's hears us when we pray. The challenge is meeting Him even when we're smooth-sailing and it doesn't seem like we need His help. I know that sounds so crazy. But it's so true. God receives the credit for our health and happiness, He doesn't just want us at our wit's end.

I've been learning this week that most of us aren't content with our lot because we want a lot more. How sadly human that is. I think I'm going to make this thankfulness post a regular thing! It's exactly what I need to get my heart in the right place.